If anyone ever tells you that Park Rangers are dull, boring people, take a walk in the opposite direction. National Parks and Wildlife Refuge Rangers in general, Rock! This I know.
The Kindness of Strangers
These are the folks, along with wonderful volunteers, that greet numerous people on a daily basis. In fact, lets’ ramp that number up during the Spring to late Fall and depending on which park or Wildlife Refuge you visit, and you are talking about 2000 plus per week. That equals to a lot of smiles (and sore cheeks), questions that are answered, tours along the trails to be covered, well, you get the point. I have yet to meet a boring Ranger.
Park Rangers are walking computers in human form. If you step close to one of them, you can hear their brains clicking away with all the facts, figures and educational information they must learn in order to pass this on to you. It is due to the love of their job that this is possible.
A return visit to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, garnered for me a new appreciation for the area. Micheal Dixon offered an opportunity for me to view the Assateague Island Lighthouse up close and personal. Unfortunately, a busy workday deterred him, but he placed me in the capable hands of Jenny Howard Owen. Through her eyes, I was able to view the Wildlife Refuge for its own beauty. She taught the difference between the entities that maintain the beach, lighthouse and the Wildlife refuge. She presented a poster that described the shorelines slow disintegration due to Mother Nature’s indecisive mood, shifting and changing the sands with a breath of the wind. Finally, we walked the trail leading to the lighthouse and spoke of its history and purpose. While climbing the wide, spiral, metal stairs, pausing on each platform; allowed a chance to read the information sheets that awaited.
I felt like a child inside her own playhouse. My love for lighthouses overwhelms me with the history that they contain. The Chincoteague Natural History Association (CNHA) is committed to the restoration and preservation of the Assateague Island Lighthouse. You can obtain more information from their website, http://www.piping-plover.org/lighthouse.html. Once we reached the top and I stepped out on the metal crow’s nest, all I could do was smile. Fresh air, light fog and the true roar of the ocean energized me. As I looked out before me, Jenny continued to discuss the Wildlife Refuge and its importance in the balance of nature. This area is home to various ducks, egrets, snow geese and other land animals. From this vantage point, I felt the energy she expressed regarding her work. Jenny enlightened me to a better understanding of a life outside of my own.
If you are a bird watcher or a lover of the outdoors, a great opportunity awaits you during the week of February 17-20, 2012, to engage in some citizen science. The 15th Annual Great Bird Count begins. This free event is a chance to share with friends, children, grandchildren or to use as a school project. Visit www.birdcount.org for more information. This gives everybody a chance to beat cabin fever and enjoy the fresh air and a learning environment that is good for everyone. Studies have shown that our “plugged in generation” could alleviate stress with as little as 5 minutes a day in the outdoors. Visit www.fws.gov/northeast/chinco and “Let’s go outside!”